As our understanding of canine healthcare and medical capabilities have improved over time, so has our ability to detect medical conditions earlier in their development. Just as in people, as our dogs age, their likelihood of developing any number of chronic, degenerative conditions increases. Our increasing ability to detect many of these conditions results in a more favorable prognosis in most cases. Semi-annual physical examinations are a cornerstone to the detection of varying conditions, but there are many diseases which remain undetectable on examinations until they are in the advanced stages. To increase early detection of these disease in our geriatric patients, we recommend performing some non-invasive, cost-effective testing on an annual basis.
Senior Pet Care
Our annual senior early detection recommendations include a serum biochemistry panel, complete blood count (CBC), thyroid hormone assessment, urinalysis, and blood pressure measurement. A serum biochemistry panel includes 24 individual tests which assess the overall health and function of the body’s internal organs and metabolic functions including the liver, kidneys, adrenal glands, blood protein levels, blood sugar, and electrolytes. A CBC includes a total of 20 individual tests which evaluate the number, size, shape, and distribution of the cells within the blood stream. These tests reveal any evidence of anemias (low red blood cell count), infection, inflammation, some forms of cancer, and diseases of the bone marrow. A yearly thyroid hormone level is the primary tool for screening dogs for hypothyroidism (low thyroid function). Finally, a urinalysis assesses for evidence of a variety of urinary tract and certain systemic disorders including kidney failure, certain hormonal conditions, urinary tract infections, bladder and kidney stones, and certain forms of cancer.
As our pets are driven to instinctually conceal signs of symptoms of diseases as a survival method, we must take a more active role in detecting disease in our patients as they become more susceptible with increasing age. In addition to regular physical examinations, regular blood and urine testing is the foundation of our attempts at diagnosing diseases as early as possible, ideally allowing early and less invasive management and treatment strategies.